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(Reno Gazette-Journal)   Nevada Supreme Court strikes down "Son of Sam" law, which allows victims of felonies to take any profits made by felons from books, movies, etc. about the crime   (rgj.com) divider line 106
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7151 clicks; posted to Main » on 23 Dec 2004 at 5:52 AM (9 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2004-12-23 05:40:07 AM
There are so many things that are wrong (morally) in that article's content that it makes my heart bleed e.g. plea bargaining, people wanting to pay and read those memoirs, profiting from the misfortune of others, etc etc etc.
 
2004-12-23 05:57:51 AM
At least they don't have to worry about the victims making books about their murders.

.horribly bad taste.
 
2004-12-23 06:00:29 AM
But what if the dog who told Sam to do it penned a book? What then? Huh?
 
2004-12-23 06:10:04 AM
<~ Is that a fishing hook?
 
2004-12-23 06:12:16 AM
Just tax it and be consistent.
 
2004-12-23 06:18:35 AM
"... that included details about suffocating his friend during a 1997 fistfight and going to prison for the slaying."

Fair and indeed balanced... I've read this book, and while it does explain the reason he's in jail, it does NOT go into detail about the killing. It starts from his first day in prison and ends there, without going into great length about events which the author admits he was hardly aware of. It's a very good book, and I could care less the circumstances of the man who wrote it. There have been plenty of great books written in prison, some by murderers, some not.

Besides, the guy was caught, sentenced and has been to jail. That's how people are punished, that's the system. The victim's sister has no right to try to take this guy's cash on top of all that.
 
2004-12-23 06:22:55 AM
I don't understand how profiting from a criminal act can be protected by the first amendment.
 
2004-12-23 06:28:33 AM
Seinfeld's van! Seinfeld's van!!
 
2004-12-23 06:45:16 AM
"I don't understand how profiting from a criminal act can be protected by the first amendment."

Given that he's been sent to jail, he's already been punished for his criminal act. And like I say, it's not a book about the crime, it's a book about the punishment.
 
2004-12-23 06:54:28 AM
dukefluke:

Given that he's been sent to jail, he's already been punished for his criminal act. And like I say, it's not a book about the crime, it's a book about the punishment.

It's the principle that you shouldn't profit from your crime.
 
2004-12-23 06:55:00 AM
Each book comes with a file in the spine of the book and a coupon for soap on a rope. Buy ten and get a tube of colon creme, to relieve those days when the herpes flare up
 
2004-12-23 06:56:53 AM
Cool! Lots of great books to write now. Just as soon as I can start my crime wave.
 
2004-12-23 06:57:07 AM
"It's the principle that you shouldn't profit from your crime."

Well if you want to look at it like that, what he's actually doing is profiting from his punishment.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2004-12-23 06:58:53 AM
The law already has a mechanism to financially punish felons -- their victims (or victims' families) can sue. Then the royalties from the book will go to pay the debt.
 
2004-12-23 07:05:28 AM
dukefluke:

Well if you want to look at it like that, what he's actually doing is profiting from his punishment.

Which kinda takes away the point of punishment, no?
 
2004-12-23 07:08:07 AM
Well, the lazy biatch trying to mooch something she didn't earn, something that landed on her in fact, shouldn't get a dime. But I heard you're not s'posed to get the same rights as law abiding citizens and stuff if you're a scumbag murderer, friend killer at that. I dunno, that's just word on the street.
 
2004-12-23 07:11:01 AM
"Which kinda takes away the point of punishment, no?"

How so? He's been put on trial and sentenced to a fixed amount of time in federal PMITA prison. The only variable from that point on is if he gets released early for good behaviour. That's it. What happens to him in that time is up to him - just with any other prisoner. Turns out this guy did something constructive with his time and wrote a book. What would you have preferred to see happen?
 
2004-12-23 07:24:07 AM
i'd perfer to have him write a book about the horrible gang-bangs he endured in prison from his bunk mate bubba. You should not be able to profit off of the results of a crime, conviction should carry a mandatory 99yr(i.e. military sealed documents) hush clause for the convicted. You want to profit off of your murder, sell that bootay in the pen for some cigs.
 
2004-12-23 07:31:18 AM
Dauvan - "i'd perfer to have him write a book about the horrible gang-bangs he endured in prison from his bunk mate bubba. You should not be able to profit off of the results of a crime, conviction should carry a mandatory 99yr(i.e. military sealed documents) hush clause for the convicted. You want to profit off of your murder, sell that bootay in the pen for some cigs."

So, for you, the point of being sent to prison is so that the criminal can be raped on a regular basis, is it? How very farking enlightened of you. And I still see that you're failing to spot the difference between profiting from a crime and profiting from the punishment.

The irony is, that's exactly what the book IS about. You know, the book you don't want anyone to read.
 
2004-12-23 07:38:17 AM
Now, if the author was Martha Stewart, would any of you be complaining? After all, she is a convicted felon as well.

Bueller?

Thought not.
 
2004-12-23 07:40:55 AM
i'm with you on this one, dukefluke

it's nice to see the 1st amendment being protected every once in a while, especially for people that might not be celebrated by the majority.
 
2004-12-23 07:45:06 AM
robotblood - I'm only really chiming in because I've read the book in question, which barely mentions the crime and shows how miserable life must be in jail. Condolences to the victim's sister, but trying to get the guy's cash for writing THIS book? Pure and simple greed.
 
2004-12-23 07:45:53 AM
SpudMuffin:

Now, if the author was Martha Stewart, would any of you be complaining? After all, she is a convicted felon as well.

Yes.
 
2004-12-23 07:52:54 AM
still don't think he should be able to profit off a crime, the reason he is IN jail is because of a crime. So in essence he is profiting of the crime, why doesn't he send his oh so nice profits to jail reform. Personal gain from something resulting from an illegal act should be forbidden.
 
2004-12-23 08:04:02 AM
I thought that convicted felons were already stripped of many of their rights. They can't vote. They do not have the freedom to leave the prison. Not allowing them to profit from writing a book is not limiting free speech. Let them write as many books as they want. But the money made from the profits should go to compensating the families and the state to pay for the persons prison costs.
 
2004-12-23 08:05:57 AM
1)Commit Felony
2)Go to prison
3)Write Book
4)Profit

So if the book becomes a best seller and he becomes stinking rich because he committed a crime, thats ok is it? (I'm looking at you Dukefluke)
 
2004-12-23 08:07:30 AM
Exactly squintbro
 
2004-12-23 08:11:51 AM
"So if the book becomes a best seller and he becomes stinking rich because he committed a crime, thats ok is it? (I'm looking at you Dukefluke)"

Yes, obviously - and it's also legal. How about you explain why it's not.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2004-12-23 08:15:34 AM
But the money made from the profits should go to compensating the families and the state to pay for the persons prison costs.

The law already does that without the "Son of Sam" provisions. The family can sue for wrongful death. The government in some states can sue for cost of imprisonment. These costs are independent of whether the criminal has or makes any money from any source. If he owes $400,000 to the family and $120,000 to the state, that's what he owes whether he waits tables, writes books, or runs a billion dollar corporation. The "Son of Sam" family of laws treats speech (writing) more harshly than other forms of money-making and is unconstitutional for that reason.
 
2004-12-23 08:16:53 AM
I seem to recall someone a few years back with this grand plan of killing someone and writing a book about it to get rich. A couple million dollars for 8-12 years of work (less with good behaviour)

Fell apart when he realized he wouldn't get any profits from the book.
 
2004-12-23 08:17:57 AM
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down so called son-of-sam laws a while ago (can't remember the name of the case). Basically on the grounds that (1) we guard our freedome of speach jelously, (2)son-of-sam laws might restrict some speach that deserves protection (Malcome X or Martin Luther King Jr. for example).
 
2004-12-23 08:22:55 AM
Zaz - RE: The law already does that

Sort of. How much do you think the child of a murder victim would be awarded in a typical case? Unless your loved one is killed by a doctor or Bill Gates, you probably wouldn't even consider suing him for all he has (which would be nothing)

12 years and a book deal later, that person who killed your parent is well off and you're still an orphan.
 
2004-12-23 08:26:43 AM
First Amendment rights? I don't think so.

The Son of Sam law does not restrict speech in any way. It doesn't stop anyone from writing a book. Granted, the law means that they cannot profit from their crimes, but the right to free speech does not provide that guartantee anyway.

This decision is ridiculous.
 
2004-12-23 08:34:19 AM
squintbro:

I thought that convicted felons were already stripped of many of their rights. They can't vote. They do not have the freedom to leave the prison.

You're exactly right. The gub'ment can indeed take away lots of your rights if you're convicted of a crime, not the least of which is the most fundamental right of all: freedom. They take you and put you in a cell for X years, feed you slop, subject you to beatings and rape. When they let you out, you can't vote, find a decent job or own a gun.

The courts have always looked at the right of free speech as being protected above and beyond most of the other enumerated rights in the Constitution. I can see why they do it, but I'd rather see all the enumerated rights protected more consistently. I've long held that the court should apply the same standards to the Second Amendment as they do to the First, as you can't really have one without the other.
 
2004-12-23 08:36:35 AM
stixx:

I seem to recall someone a few years back with this grand plan of killing someone and writing a book about it to get rich. A couple million dollars for 8-12 years of work (less with good behaviour)

Fell apart when he realized he wouldn't get any profits from the book.


I have no idea what you're referring to, but I'd imagine that this person would be horribly suprised when he was sentenced to life or death for premeditated murder.
 
2004-12-23 08:40:13 AM
write book, profits should go to the police funds or missing childern or victims of violent crimes for the state of the crime. but personal gain, no. How about someone shoot a cop, go to prison then write a book and their spouse gets a nice royalty check for it? Sounds nice to the family of the cop I bet... U.S.A. Are you extreme enough. Our new slogan.
 
2004-12-23 08:44:20 AM
ebell:

The courts have always looked at the right of free speech as being protected above and beyond most of the other enumerated rights in the Constitution.

That's fine, but this is not a free-speech issue. If you have something you really must say, you can do it without selling and profiting from the message.
 
2004-12-23 08:53:56 AM
Let's think about this logically.

There are two scenarios here - one where the profits go to the victims' families (the Son of Sam law is in effect) and one where they don't.

In scenario B, killer writes book, killer makes money, people get pissed off because he's a killer and he's not supposed to have money, he's just supposed to sit and stare at the wall and channel Charles Manson. (You must also ignore at all costs the fact that the only reason he has the money from the books in the first place is that normal people [who knew that he wrote them and is profiting from them] purchased them at Barnes and Noble). People whine.

In Scenario A, judge says "Anything you do related to this crime, any profits genereated therein will be given to the victims". So the killer simply refuses to write a book. A law like this will never give a substantial amount of money to the victims, for the same reason that a pseudo-heroic liberal bill saying "Corporations, you are BAD! You MUST give us workers a LIVING WAGE!" will never work. If you make it unprofitable (where "profit" is defined as any advantage, not necessarily money) for somebody to do something, there comes a point where it's more profitable to simply refuse to do it. There's no incentive. (e.g. take the jaywalking law - everybody, with the exception of maybe a few old ladies, considers abiding by the jaywalking law to be so unprofitable [with regard to time spent] relative to the likelihood of getting prosecuted for jaywalking, that they simply refuse to obey it. Same principle goes here.)

So either way, the victims' families get no money out of this. However, in Scenario A, they not only get no money, but a person (who is of course crazier than a rat in a tin outhouse, but a person nonetheless) is basically given a gag order and not allowed to write his memoirs without forfeiting the profits (all of which would probably have gone to his legal fees anyway. If Crazy Nutbar Man is unable to pay legal fees/court costs, who do you think does? That's right - you and I. We bankroll stupid legislation like this with every paycheck).

Also, does it occur to any of you that people probably don't go on crime sprees because 'the book profits will be awesome'?

/just askin'
 
2004-12-23 08:56:11 AM
Aren't you supposed to lose some of your "Rights" when you become a felon?

im guessing free speech should be one of them.
since your in prison, and under the State's prison laws.

you cant vote can you?

just dumb
 
2004-12-23 08:57:46 AM
dukefluke

Yes, obviously - and it's also legal. How about you explain why it's not.

It is legal, because they've just overturned the Son of Sam law, but it is still morally wrong. He is benefitting from a crime (or benefitting from his punishment). I wouldn't stop him from writing the book, or talking about his crime (thatwould be preventing free speech), or donating all the profits to charity, etc. but he shouldn't profit himself.(Does he have a "Right to Make money"?)
 
2004-12-23 09:00:39 AM
WTF? The First Ammendment guarantees freedom of speech, it does not guarantee you can reap financial gain off your speech. This ruling obviously has to be stricken down by a higher court of appeals. Stupid judge; know your Constitution, spam-for-brains!

dukefluke: Well if you want to look at it like that, what he's actually doing is profiting from his punishment.

Your argument is hair-splitting. Cause-and-effect: he would not have received the punishment and been able to write the book had he not committed the crime. I think it's up to the court to determine whether or not the Son of Sam law relates to profits gained solely from work directly describing or talking about the commission of the crime, or if it also applies to discussion of life that resulted from the crime (i.e., prison time).

NotAWittyUserName makes a really good point, tho': under the Son of Sam laws, the writings of Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (OK, he was in Germany, but you get the point)...heck, even the Apostle Paul!...would have been subject to this law. While it's a badly-done law, this judge's interpretation of it is equally flawed.

squintbro: I thought that convicted felons were already stripped of many of their rights. They can't vote.

Not entirely true; IIRC, there was a discussion around the time of the Great Sadness, er, the 2004 presidential election, about certain ex-convicts in Florida who had regained their right...was it that they were from another state that restored their voting right, or something? Someone help me here...

[threadjack]
Anyone want to have a spirited discussion about what the real purpose of prison is supposed to be, and what it actually does to people?
[/threadjack]
 
2004-12-23 09:05:48 AM
I get it...

Phase one: Kill someone

Phase two: Write book about it

Phase three: Do time in pound me in the ass prison

Phase four: Profit
 
2004-12-23 09:05:56 AM
If this fails appeal, all they have to do is pass a new law that is more specific about who is restricted and for how long. No big issue here.
 
2004-12-23 09:06:37 AM
Mor Beal

The First Ammendment guarantees freedom of speech, it does not guarantee you can reap financial gain off your speech.

Quite right. However, when you effectively say 'you cant write a book about your crimes unless you give the profits to victims' (and therefore [surprise, surprise] the killer doesnt write a book because people do things because they anticipate profiting from them in some way and they dont like to do things for no profit), you're effectively telling me that I can't make an informed decision about whether or not I want to purchase a book about a crime written by someone who will profit from this book.

I just so happen to have a huge flipping problem with being told that I cannot make informed purchasing decisions.

If he writes a book and makes millions off of it, why the hell do people blame him for the books' popularity? What about the millions of people who BOUGHT THE FRIGGIN BOOK??
 
2004-12-23 09:11:45 AM
Make the law less absolute: Split the profits. There. Everybody wins. He gets to be creative, the family gets their pound of revenge "flesh."

Tada!

/For my next trick...
 
2004-12-23 09:17:04 AM
mikeyb_houtex

Make the law less absolute: Split the profits. There. Everybody wins. He gets to be creative, the family gets their pound of revenge "flesh."

Tada!


And when the killer gives a manuscript to his lawyer who gives it to Some Random Guy who then publishes a work of 'fiction' detailing the same type of crime the killer is accused of for 25% of the total profits, your trick will be...?

People will always find ways to make things profitable for themselves, as will corporations. They'll always find ways around stupid economy-meddling laws.

Leave the economy alone. He committed a crime, he's being punished for it, what he does for money, so long as it isn't a crime itself, is his own f'ing business.
 
2004-12-23 09:19:21 AM
Dauvan

still don't think he should be able to profit off a crime, the reason he is IN jail is because of a crime. So in essence he is profiting of the crime, why doesn't he send his oh so nice profits to jail reform. Personal gain from something resulting from an illegal act should be forbidden.

By that logic, a person who goes to prison, studies a trade while in the joint, and ends up getting a job in that field after they're released, should have all of their wages taken away, right?

Actually, since you said that "Personal gain from something resulting from an illegal act should be forbidden", you're going way past simple economic gain. Such an attitude would disallow prisoners access to any educational resources at all. After all, education would be a personal gain, and we can't allow that, now can we?

Some people seem to forget that prison is not simply about punishment, but also about reform. Being reformed is, in itself, a type of "personal gain".
 
2004-12-23 09:25:51 AM
Fyouz

The First Amendment guarantees free speech, not free/unlimited purchasing choices.

What you're saying is:

1)Kill friend by putting plastic bag on his head and choking him
2)Go to pound-me-in-the-ass prison
3)Write book
4)Fyouz buys book (which he reads once then forgets about)
7)become multi-bazillionaire
8)victims family get nothing

but because of stage 4 stages 7 and 8 are ok.
 
2004-12-23 09:29:43 AM
I'm not sure how you draft a law that prohibits making money from a book about your crime, but permits making money from a book about your punishment. I would think that a lot would be left for the courts to sort out - and that's never good.

The lesson to be learned here is that the family should always file a wrongful death suit against the murderer. If he later writes a book and makes money - execute on the judgment.
 
2004-12-23 09:31:02 AM
and you dont want to know what happened in stages 5 and 6!
 
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